Canada’s unions: Domestic workers deserve to be seen, supported and protected

June 16, 2023

As we mark International Domestic Workers’ Day on June 16, Canada’s unions are urging the federal government to urgently provide much-needed recognition and legal protections for domestic workers in this country.

Domestic workers do the indispensable work of caring for our children, families, and communities, and help us meet our essential household care needs. However, they also often face barriers to decent work such as poor working conditions, low pay, wage theft, exploitation and limited pathways out of precarious immigration status.

“Canada’s ratification of ILO Convention 190 (C-190) earlier this year was an important and welcomed step in protecting the right of all workers to be free from workplace violence and harassment. But domestic workers remain vulnerable at work without the additional and specific protections provided by ILO Convention 189 (C-189),” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Canada must also ratify C-189 to ensure decent, fair and safe work for domestic workers.”

There are an estimated 75.6 million domestic workers around the world, and women make up the vast majority of this workforce. A 2022 ILO report stated that just six percent of domestic workers worldwide have access to comprehensive social protections. In Canada, most domestic work is carried out by racialized women, many of whom are migrant workers.

Convention 189 recognizes the critical nature of this care work and allows domestic workers to have access to the same employment norms, standards and protections as workers in other sectors.

“This issue is part of a broader problem in this country, one where care workers are often under-recognized and undervalued. This is why Canada’s unions are calling for a forward-thinking, integrated care strategy that improves working conditions for care workers and that strengthens Canada’s care economy, across all sectors,” said Bruske. “We believe everyone has the right to access the care they need and that care workers deserve to be seen, valued and supported.”

For more information on the CLC’s care campaign, visit showwecare.ca.

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